Business Profile | Timothy P. Mulhere

September 2014 View more

Tim Mulhere, executive vice president of Ecolabs, for Naperville Magazine

Photo by Mike Hudson

With shrinking natural resourcesaround the world, and the growing demand for a clean and sustainable water supply, Ecolab, a global leader in water, hygiene and energy technologies and services, is using technology to find new solutions. Naperville Magazine recently spoke with Timothy P. Mulhere, executive vice president and president of Global Water and Process Services for Ecolab, about the biggest challenges facing his company.

As leader of Ecolab’s Global Water and Process Services, which operates under the Nalco name, what is your proudest accomplishment?

It’s hard to point to one specific accomplishment I’m most proud of, but I think in general, I’m most proud of our people. It’s very gratifying to see our people take an idea and turn it into a solution that solves an issue a customer may have, and this happens every day in R&D, in sales, in our functional groups. I also love seeing our associates develop and excel. It’s very rewarding when you see people take on new roles or new challenges and they flourish as a result of that growth.

Nalco has several products designed to reduce energy, water, and other natural resource consumption. What is your most successful product?

3D TRASAR technology is definitely Nalco’s keystone technology. It originated as a program for treating the water in industrial cooling systems, but it has since expanded to many other industrial and institutional applications, including process and wastewater, and continues to grow. We recently sold our 25,000th unit and are preparing to roll out enhancements that will lay the foundation for the next generation of this technology that will keep it in on the leading edge of monitoring and control offerings for years to come.

3D TRASAR technology monitors water systems in real time and applies control technology and 24/7 information management capabilities to detect, determine and deliver improved performance in cooling, boiler and membrane systems. It detects upsets that precede common system challenges and delivers the appropriate chemical response, either remotely or by sending corrective information to our onsite sales and service team. The result is a balanced, efficient and safe cooling, boiler or membrane system. There’s less maintenance, no over- or under-dosing of chemistries, lower operating costs and maximum asset protection.

What is the biggest global challenge Nalco is addressing in terms of dwindling natural resources?

The world is facing unprecedented challenges related to water—an area of considerable expertise for us—so we’ve been working to expand our reach beyond our operations to advance sustainable water management practices around the world, specifically in many of the world’s most water stressed regions.

As an example, we have a customer who cannot increase their capacity to meet demand because local water supplies are limited. We are helping to increase the amount of water they are able to recycle and reuse, and decrease overall water consumption to allow for increased production, which help the customer meet demand and grow their business, while considering overall community impact. 

We also work through partnerships and initiatives to advance water stewardship practices. In 2013, Ecolab field-tested the Alliance for Water Stewardship’s “beta” water stewardship standard at two sites within China’s most critical watershed, to test its feasibility and applicability. Learnings from that pilot shaped the first International Water Stewardship Standard launched in April at the UN CEO Water Mandate multi-stakeholder working conference in Lima, Peru. The Standard helps water users implement responsible water practices to reduce risks related to water quantity and quality, work collaboratively with neighboring water users to address shared challenges and minimize environmental impact.

What type of work is being done at the company’s Naperville office?

I mentioned earlier the work being done to both expand and strengthen our 3D TRASAR offering—much of this work is occurring within the R&D and marketing groups in our Naperville office. Much of the strategy work for our overall industrial water offering is occurring here as well. We’re evaluating market opportunities and determining how best to meet a market need, either through in-house innovation or, when appropriate, through an acquisition. We’re currently working to bring three recent pretreatment acquisitions within the Nalco brand. 

You are involved in various community and professional organizations including the American Chemistry Council and the Executives’ Club of Chicago. How do you maintain a work-life balance? 

I believe having the right components in place helps to ensure one area of your life doesn’t consume a disproportionate amount of time. The organizations you mentioned are work-related, but the time I spend doing this work is very different from the work I do in the office, and this variety helps me stay energized. I also try to be as disciplined as possible about leaving work at work. Technology has made it far more challenging to stay in the moment, but I try to unplug as much as I can when I’m taking vacation or spending time with my family.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

It’s very satisfying to see the impact of the work our company does, both for our customers and for society. Ecolab’s purpose is to make the world cleaner, safer and healthier, to protect people and vital resources and ensure clean water, safe food, abundant energy and healthy environments. Having a profound impact on things that are so vital to life makes Ecolab a great company to work for. I am also on the board for the Ecolab Foundation, and the focus on giving back to our communities is a very important part of our company culture. Working for Ecolab is incredibly energizing when you see the positive impact we have on people throughout the world.